UPDATE: Perth Glory’s ability to cope with the stifling conditions at nib Stadium yesterday gave them a distinct edge on their way to a 2-0 victory over Melbourne Heart, according to opposition coach John Aloisi.
Dean Heffernan’s first Glory goal, swept home in the 38th minute, and Billy Mehmet’s second of the season, five minutes from the end of normal time, earned the home side a result which lifted them to second place on the A-League table. Adelaide are top, ahead of Glory on goal difference.
Although Aloisi indicated Glory had been good value for their win, he questioned the wisdom of the mid-afternoon kick-off as his players wilted.
“You can’t make excuses but it’s been quite cool in Melbourne and coming over here and playing at two o’clock in the afternoon, it really affected us,” Aloisi said.
“When you get fatigued you start to not think straight and our boys were getting pulled out of position too easily.”
Even during the early stages, Glory looked the likely winners.
Driven by the midfield muscle of Jacob Burns and Liam Miller, and the width provided by Heffernan and Scott Jamieson on the left and Josh Risdon and Travis Dodd on the right, Glory were rarely troubled by Heart, who lost midfield architect Fred to an eye injury halfway through the match.
Despite their dominance, coach Ian Ferguson said he was concerned Heart could hit back.
He was relieved when Mehmet glanced home a corner from Miller, who had provided similar service for Heffernan’s opener.
“I felt in control for a lot of the game but with one goal in it you always know that Heart are going to be dangerous,” Ferguson said.
“We were always a little bit nervous until the second goal went in.”
Understandably, Ferguson was less concerned about the impact of Sunday’s weather — the mercury nudged 30C — although he, too, felt the game was affected by the heat.
Glory handled it better and got the late sealer after the introduction of Nick Ward and debutants Chris Harold and Adrian Zahra.
There was also an assured performance from centre-back Steve Pantelidis to please Ferguson.
In for the injured Bas van den Brink, Pantelidis had Ferguson looking away when he went into a trademark no-holds-barred tackle with David Williams.
“I was just glad when I opened my eyes that the two players were still standing,” Ferguson said.
Heffernan had been first to threaten when he had a shot saved by goalkeeper Clint Bolton and a second attempt blocked on the line by Patrick Gerhardt.
He made sure of his next opportunity when he fired Miller’s corner beyond Bolton.
The second goal finally arrived with five minutes of normal time remaining when Mehmet’s glancing header found the net after another Miller delivery.